During a weekend session, the House and Senate approved Nov. 20 a package of appropriation bills that will fund the federal government for FY 2005, which began Oct. 1. The measure sets the final investment levels for the federal transportation programs, including a record federal highway investment. Due to a technical matter, the measure, as of press time, was scheduled for final approval in House of Representatives in the week of Nov. 21.
For the federal transportation programs, the measure will provide FY 2005 investment levels of approximately:
• Highways — $34.4 billion (a $800 million increase above FY 2004)
• Transit — $7.65 billion (a $379 million increase above FY 2004)
• Airport Construction — $3.47 million (a $71 million increase above FY 2004)
• Amtrak — $1.21 billion (a $10 million reduction from FY 2004)
Although the final highway investment level is a substantial increase, it is still $200 million below the amount recommended by the House Appropriations Committee and $500 million below the Senate Appropriations Committee proposal.
The final appropriations package calls for a $34.7 billion in guaranteed highway investment for FY 2005 — an amount between the House and Senate proposed levels. However, to meet the budgetary demands of the Bush Administration, congressional leaders applied a .80 percent cut to all non-defense and security programs. As such, the $34.7-billion investment level is reduced to $34.4 billion.
The final legislation also contains FY 2005 funding for the Army Corps of Engineers, and provides $4.667 billion in investment for the Corps’ civil works program. This represents a $90 million increase above FY 2004 investments for port and waterway navigation improvements, locks and dams, flood prevention, shore protection and environmental restoration projects.
Despite a number of last minute efforts, however, the final package does not include a reauthorization of the Water Resources Development Act (WRDA), which would have authorized additional water infrastructure improvements. As such, reauthorization of the federal surface transportation and water resource programs are pending items for the 109th Congress when it convenes next year.